For some time I have considered myself a “Liberal”, politically speaking. But in my stand-up comedy act, I have a set where I get very politically incorrect in dealing with our society’s sick lack of values that has reached an all time low, largely due to the unhealthy pro-drug, pro-promiscuity and pro-fake image lifestyles pushed heavily by a majority of Liberals and the media in general.
But “Conservatives” are guilty of their own unhealthy views, largely based around unbridled selfishness and greed, racism and evangelical Bible based bigotry to name just a few. These things are of themselves even more harmful to mankind as our history has repeatedly shown. I will deal with all of this below…
First a quick quiz addressing both ends of the typical spectrum:
Are your values focused on excessive use of alcohol beyond moderation, getting drunk, etc? Do you value getting high on marijuana or using any other drug for “recreation”? Do you value treating your body like an “amusement park ride”, seeking to engage in promiscuous sexual activities with anyone you are attracted to whenever the mood strikes, without thought of the mental, emotional, psychological, not to mention biological consequences(possible abortion and STD’s)? Do you value fake image and plastic surgery over genuinely showing the world the honesty of what you truly think and how you truly look physically?
OK, now let’s take it to the other end of the spectrum…Are your values to hold sacred a belief that all others who don’t have the same religious belief as you are condemned and damned to Hell by God/Allah? Are your values to think that you are “saved” but all others of different faiths are “unsaved” and undeserving of forgiveness since they haven’t “converted” to your religion? Do you value holding things against others who think differently than you, or to hold back forgiveness from anyone who you feel may have hurt or betrayed you at some point?
True values have NOTHING TO DO with organized religion…Let me repeat that for full effect…TRUE VALUES HAVE ZERO TO DO with organized religion. And to be fair, they also have ZERO to do with using alcohol or drugs of any kind for a recreational high, which is the epitome of unhealthy living. It sets a dangerous and inexcusably irresponsible example for young people, who may not listen to everything you say, but like a hawk they SEE and most often emulate everything you do.
Values have EVERYTHING to do with purpose in your life…They have EVERYTHING to do with “good character” and morals…But once again, to be clear, morals need have nothing to do with the Bible or the Koran, or other man-made religious books.
Aren’t values, morals and ethics what you count on from others in life, when you deal with people every day while trying to accomplish your goals? And aren’t you hurt, saddened and disheartened when you are messed over by someone due to their behaving dishonestly, immorally or unethically toward you? The answer is of course, absolutely yes.
You can expect true values and morals from an Atheist. No, I am not an Atheist, but I will say that by and large, the Atheists I’ve met tend to be some of the most ethical people I’ve met. This is because true values and morals come from universal human values, which are simply and purely based on treating others the way you would want to be treated, irrespective of their religious beliefs.
How do values have everything to do with the purpose of your life? Because you are here to learn to love…to learn to forgive, and to do so “unconditionally”…You are here to recognize the shared holiness and divinity of your diverse brothers and sisters…
You are here to learn to love and forgive IRRESPECTIVE of other’s “beliefs”, meaning that love and forgiveness are not to be used “conditionally” with others as organized religion specifically teaches, that being the condition of “conversion” to their belief before forgiveness is achieved.
You are here to learn that when you withhold love and/or forgiveness from others, you are actually withholding love and forgiveness from YOURSELF. This is because, to repeat, you are here to learn that you are connected spiritually to your brothers and sisters, and your brothers and sisters are NOT just those who share your religious beliefs alone.
You are here to learn that religion generally has nothing to do with real spirituality.
In organized religion we constantly find man-made condemnation, vengeance orchestrated by a supposed “God of Love”, racism (Jews being the “Chosen Race of God” for example, or the many scriptures where God ordains slavery as a retaliatory form of vengeance, etc), bigotry in the form of damning hatred of gay people..
We find endless patriarchal, male-contrived, second class treatment and depiction of women all throughout both the Old and New Testaments (from the Garden of Eden story stating that the woman was created as an afterthought to “serve” man to the constant passages all through the Old Testament that deny equality to women, to the many New Testament references found in books attributed to Paul, denying women the right to even “speak” in church, let alone be a preacher or pastor)
I was recently explaining why this is the case to a friend of mine who was raised Catholic, in response to her very honest admission to me that she remains afraid to this day to believe anything other than the Catholic teaching of Jesus, for fear that God will condemn her to Hell.
I explained to her that the reason there is so much condemnation and damning teaching in the Bible based on fear of such a vengeful God, is because those “scriptures” came from MEN creating a god in THEIR IMAGE, not “God creating man in God’s image”. Take a minute to let this sink in.
When you do just a tiny bit of research into the historicity of the Bible, especially the New Testament, you are shocked to learn immediately that the Bible is NOT AT ALL what the church portrays it to be. It is not written by the apostles whose names are on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Bible scholars have proven that most every book in the Bible, especially the New Testament, is not written by the person whose name it is titled and attributed to. When you study the historicity of the Bible, you quickly learn that church fathers are well aware of this fact, but it isn’t taught to their practitioners.
The sad truth is that the vast majority of Christians are still unaware of these facts, as the church would prefer to keep it that way than to admit that the books of the Bible, even including several attributed to the apostle Paul, were not written by those whose names are on them.
On the contrary, it is well known and even admitted by the church fathers, that they were compiled as a result of major, often violent clashes of early Christian factions who fought intensely over what those books were to actually say in them, prior to their “canonization” or “church approval” by the early form of the Roman Catholic church.
Keep in mind this early form of the Roman Catholic church that “canonized” (approved) the content of the New Testament was very closely tied to the Roman government, working in tandem to control the masses.
So much so did they understand the serious problem that the “Gospels” were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that the POPE actually created a church edict BANNING their members from READING the Bible on their own! That’s right, for the longest time the church BANNED members from studying and reading the New Testament they had “canonized”, making it a church mandate that the Bible only be “interpreted” and read to them by church leaders/priests.
All this is because the church knew there was a problem with major widespread lack of agreement on what the content of the Gospels should say, as a result of not any part of the Bible being actually written by Jesus or his disciples.
Think about it for a second…If you were God, and you were coming here to teach spiritual truth, aren’t you at least going to dictate a book from yourself to the world? If you answered, “No, not necessarily”, you really have your head deeply buried in your religious sandbox like some kind of ignorant ostrich.
OF COURSE if you were God and came down to teach mankind spiritual truth, you’d be sure to write a book – Like the story of Moses coming down from the mountain after meeting with God and presenting the Jews with “These FIFTEEN COMMANDMENTS” (SMASH, as one of the stone tablets falls from his hands) “Ooops, I mean thens TEN COMMANDMENTS” (To quote the hilarious scene from Mel Brooks “History of the World” comedy).
But the scholarly and factual historicity of the Bible shows the opposite truth, that the books were blatantly and fraudulently named, causing the majority of Christians being falsely led to believe by the church and their pastors TO THIS VERY DAY, that those books WERE written by those disciples whose names are on them, despite the facts being the opposite, that not one of the four Gospels was actually authored by Jesus or his disciples.
So once again, what happened was that MEN created “god”(little g) in THEIR ignorant, hateful and bigoted, vengeful image, resulting in all the hate, bigotry, vengeance and condemnation of others, etc…CLEARLY, if you open your eyes, the Bible is not a depiction of God creating man in his loving and unconditionally forgiving image, as the church loves to say.
People prefer to just CONFORM though. Fear-based conformity to religion is one of the biggest dangers we face as a human race in trying to achieve harmony, brotherly love and world peace. The values of spiritual truth are the key to achieving that, but the major world religions created by men teach the opposite of the values of real spiritual truth, that being that we are all a part of what God is, collectively…that this truth isn’t dependent on any conditions of religious belief.
Simply put, “church-based conformity” has been the cause of most of all the wars and genocide, including the German Holocaust, since the beginning of recorded history. The last thing people find in conformity is TRUTH…the main thing people find in conformity is false security.
They can hear and read the truth as I share it here, and deep in their hearts they know it is true as it resonates with them in their heart of hearts, but they would rather continue with the status quo of their religious beliefs because it is too challenging to do the right thing…it is just too easy and comfortable to follow in the conformity of their religious social scene. That is more important to them than the true values of spiritual truth that contradict the things their church teaches.
People often make the mistake of saying, “What is the harm in letting people believe what they want to believe?” REALLY?? To ask such a question is to again have your head like an ostrich, deeply buried in your religious, historical sandbox.
Like I said above, what people have allowed themselves to conform to with respect to the teachings of the church and other religions such as Islam, is the direct cause of the billions of lives lost to war and genocide in mankind’s history. It is the direct cause of all the hate, bigotry, slavery and lack of equality for women, not to mention the absolute source of bigotry and condemnation toward gay and LGBT people in our society.
What harm does it do to let this continue?? Those who ask such a question are engaging in a subtle effort to seem open minded, when often in reality they are part of the very problem of conformity to wrong values that I am describing here.
“Faith” that is not supported by a foundation of reasonable critical thinking is the most harmful thing there is…it is FAR from innocent. It masquerades as the “holy word of God”, when it was crafted by men’s bigotry, seeking to control people with fear like the example I gave of my sweet friend described above, struggling with the emotionally scarring damage caused by her Catholic upbringing.
What do I mean by “faith with a foundation of reasonable critical thinking?”…I mean a faith that doesn’t require you to GO BLIND to the dishonesty of the origin and authors of its writings…or to go blind to seeing the hypocrisy and constant double standards of the man-made teachings in those writings that clearly and repeatedly advocate hateful vengeful God, all the while trying to describe God as being all loving and all forgiving.
The obvious problem is, the two CANNOT exist simultaneously, any more than one can be BOTH a Bible believing Christian AND a Koran believing Muslim at the same time. Oil and water don’t mix any more than unconditional love mixes with religious condemnation of others.
That is what I mean by a faith with a foundation of reasonable critical thinking. To have “blind faith” is what the original church fathers insisted on, and reinforced with the church edict banning members from reading the Bible on their own.
“Blind faith” is one of the most DANGEROUS things there is, and it is what has led to some of the most horrific genocidal wars and events in mankind’s history, underpinned by Christian, Jewish and/or Islamic scriptures that ordained the horrendous acts respectively, all in the name of God/Allah.
OBVIOUSLY, that is not reflective of a God of forgiveness or love…that is ONLY reflective of man creating God in MAN’s ignorant, bigoted image, to control the masses with FRAUDULENT values of the “blind faith of conformity”.
So, where are your values? Are they in conforming to teachings that condemn based on your religion? Are they in conforming to unhealthy lifestyles that teach young people by example that it is acceptable to abuse alcohol, have promiscuous casual sex for fun, or get high by using drugs for “recreation”?
You are here to learn healthy spiritual values that are not found in either end of the ignorant “Conservative” or “Liberal” spectrum. Your purpose is not to CONFORM to such ignorant, dangerous and irresponsible behavior, but to TRANSFORM and seek to be the healthy, unconditional love and healing of God that others need in your daily life.
You are here to learn to understand that we are all in this together, as equal parts of what God is.. to learn from our mistakes, and not to use religion to characterize our mistakes as “sin” and to condemn others who are of other faiths.
What harm is caused by people’s religious beliefs? How about harm over the centuries that is so great it is practically impossible to quantify at this point. Harm to the degree that it is the sole factor preventing us from uniting humanity to achieve world peace.
Such a question reveals a level of apathy and/or ignorance that is inexcusable. It is apathy and/or ignorance that is a direct result of upside down values, and that reflects the serious dangers of politically correct social conformity…meaning conforming to “popular religious belief” being MORE important to our society than embracing the healing spiritual truth of UNIVERSAL BROTHERLY LOVE, as opposed to the UNIVERSAL CONDEMNATION taught by Christianity and Islam for those who don’t “convert” to their conformity of blind faith.
On a more personal note, the harm of religion is indescribably felt when you have a father who thinks he can use his Catholic faith to justify refusing to respond to all your loving efforts to reach him by phone or mail…To use his religious belief as a form of “emotional blackmail”, believing that he has some church-given authority to alienate himself from you for years on end, denying his love as a form of “punishment”, despite how many times you write telling him how much you love and need him in your life.
Continuing on the personal note, the harm of religion can be further indescribably devastating when you love a mother more than anything in the world, and yet she too fanatically embraces religious beliefs (Southern Baptist) that you, and all others who don’t share her bigoted beliefs taught in the Bible, are condemned to Hell in the name of God.
This is horrible, “in living color” reality I have to live with every day as a result of the man-made hate of religion…Ironically and sadly, this behavior is the height of hypocrisy, because growing up over the years while my mother fanatically taught me those very bigoted beliefs, I repeatedly observed her personally engaging in sustained intimate behavior and relationships with other women, at least one of whom was married during the multiple years it lasted.
Yet, to this day, she chooses to lie about this truth, all the while continuing to point her finger with her fundamentalist Christian beliefs that all gay people are condemned to Hell by God. Obviously, it is nearly impossible to lovingly fellowship with such deep dishonesty, hypocrisy and religious hatred so embraced by a parent, especially when you know it is directed at you as well because you don’t join in such hatred in the name of God.
One does not ever deserve to have such bigoted religious teachings keep them from the healthy love they so desperately need from their mother or father. But that is the harm that is created by man-made religion, all falsely masquerading in the name of God.
What harm is caused by religion? Good teachers like to say “There are NO DUMB QUESTIONS”. But that might be the one exception to the rule.
(Connie Bryan is an oped writer in Sacramento, CA specializing in religion, politics and social issues…Check out all of Connie’s editorials on her blog at www.conniebryan.com)